New £2.2 million round of funding will support communities across England to save their local pub

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More Than a Pub, a £2.2m fund to help community groups across England looking to take ownership of their local pub, has launched its second phase.
19 Jun, 2019

National Charity, Plunkett Foundation, has announced the return of major programme, More Than a Pub; a new round of support and finance that will help community groups across England looking to take ownership of their local pub for the benefit of the community.

Community pubs are thriving where private enterprise has failed; almost a quarter of privately-owned pubs have shut down since 2008 [2], but community pubs have a 100% success rate [3]. Community pubs also play a vital role in reducing loneliness and social isolation, providing a range of community focused activities and services, as well as being a community space for all.

The programme will be delivered in collaboration with a range of key stakeholders in the community pub sector [4], and a flexible package of support will be on offer to community groups, including access to an advice line, events, training, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business development advice. It will also offer flexible bursary awards to fund very early stage activity, such as community consultation work, and a grant and loan package to help pubs reach the open and trading stage. The programme will support new-start projects and already open pubs, where they advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities [5].

Funded by Power to Change and delivered by Plunkett Foundation, this programme builds on the success of the first round of the More Than a Pub programme, which supported 190 communities and saw 28 pubs open their doors under community ownership from 2016 to 2019. Many more who have been working with the More than a Pub Programme have been listed as ‘assets of community value’ under community rights, highlighting the important role that pubs play in local communities.

One pub that benefited from the first round of ‘More Than a Pub’ is The Gardeners Rest in Sheffield, which opened in October 2017 with over 400 local residents investing between £100 and £5,000 to become Society members – and democratic owners – of the pub, now being run for the benefit of the community. The group has developed The Gardeners Rest into a community hub with services and facilities beyond that of a traditional local.

The pub now undertakes charitable work with vulnerable adults and people with learning difficulties, by providing employment opportunities and meeting space.  It also continues to be a music venue with guest performers, as well as an activity centre and a place for local artists and photographers to exhibit their work.

Mark Powell, Director of The Gardeners Rest, said: “The programme support made the difference between buying a pub and investing in More Than a Pub – we have stayed focused on our community purpose because of this. It would have been too easy to have done otherwise in the first year of a new commercial venture.”

Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, said: “Pubs are often the last hub in their community. They are important places where people come together and they provide a diversity of services, including lunch clubs for vulnerable people, training and development, gardening and cooking classes and parenting groups. Community pubs are so valuable to the people who use them. The first round of the More than a Pub programme we ran with Plunkett was an enormous success, so it was a natural decision for us to continue to support this thriving and much-loved sector.”

James Alcock, Executive Director of Plunkett Foundation, said: “Plunkett is delighted to be launching the return of More Than a Pub; in its first iteration, this programme significantly increased the number of community-owned pubs open and trading, bringing far-reaching benefits to local people. This second round of funding will mean that we can build on the momentum and success of the existing community pub sector and help many more community groups seeking to take ownership of their local pub to save them from closure. For many communities, pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to peoples’ sense of place and identity, they provide an important place for people to meet and help to build community cohesion.”

For further information on the latest round of the More Than a Pub programme, visit


Images accompanying the press release can be found below (CREDIT: Plunkett Foundation)

Notes to editors:

[1] What is a community pub?

Community pubs are owned by members (sometimes known as shareholders) and are run democratically on the basis of one-member-one-vote. Membership is voluntary, affordable, and open to all in a community, and is the mechanism for ensuring the community has a genuine say in how the business is run. This is what gives community pubs longevity, as member control and input ensures the pub business is continually adapting and serving the needs of its members and wider community.

[2] Office of National Statistics, Economies of Ale report 2018

[3] Plunkett Foundation’s ‘Community Pubs; A Better Form of Business Report 2018

[4] More than a pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme is a unique programme established to help support community ownership of pubs in England. Its value is £2.2 million and is funded by the Power to Change Trust until December 2020. This exciting programme will be led by Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration with CAMRA, Co-operative and Community Finance, Co-operative and Mutual Solutions Limited, Key Fund, Locality, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Pub is the Hub. It will offer the community pub sector access to an end-to-end support programme including capacity building and a finance package made up of loans and grants.

[5] Enhancing Charitable Purpose. This £2.2 million programme seeks to support communities that will create significant community benefit, through the community pub, in one or more of the following areas:

  • Reducing social isolation
  • Improving health and wellbeing
  • Increasing employability
  • Creating better access to basic services
  • Improving the local environment
  • Enabling greater community cohesion
  • Fostering greater community pride and empowerment

Plunkett Foundation ( helps rural communities UK-wide to tackle the issues they face, through promoting and supporting community business. Community businesses are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community. They come in many forms, including shops, pubs, woodlands and anything which lends itself to community ownership. In addition to developing and safeguarding valuable assets and services, community businesses address a range of issues including isolation, loneliness, wellbeing, work and training.